Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 9: Neville Potemkin Wallace IV

Mr. Wallace introduces himself with his middle initial rather than using his given second name of Potemkin, which he finds to be a bit over the top for most social occasions. He is a tidy banker and dutiful father to the litter of eight kittens who have recently joined the Wallace household. On Sundays he usually attends early service with the Missus and the kindle so that he has more of the day left for his favorite part of the week (Amelia is savvy and supportive, and when the little ones are behaving, handles them on her own, packing Neville a picnic and sweeping him out the door towards the airfield).  He is a member of Her Majesty’s Aeronautic Research Collegium (H.M.A.R.C. -- No claws allowed.). It is from there that his friend and colleague Theophilus Ignatius Mulligatawny (Tim for short) sets forth on his great adventures.

Length of Feather:  4 1/2”              

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 8: Spork

There were no fast food chains in Archbold, Ohio, where I grew up, until a McDonalds moved in when I was in something like 8th grade.  A few Saturdays each summer, our family would drive our big green Ford twenty minutes to the next town over, where they had a Kentucky Fried Chicken. We’d get a bucket of chicken with all the trimmings (I wanted the mashed potatoes. My brother was all about the biscuits) and head to the park to eat and play catch with our baseball mitts. These outings always felt exotic and special. There was something about the light in those particular trees that was especially vivid and colorful that sparkled differently than any of the other parks where we would picnic or play. 

This painting is on a chicken feather. Chicken on chicken.

Length of Feather: 2 5/8”               

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 7: Queen Tink

 Several people have requested dragonflies from me. This isn’t exactly what they meant, but it’s a start.  I will be doing a whole collection of straight-up dragonflies soon. I think this lady might be Tinkerbell’s mom. 

Below is a glimpse into my process. I use painter’s tape to secure the feather to a piece of cardstock and then rough in the shape of my object with white paint (with the addition of whatever extra color I have on my palette for shading to help me keep track of the major interior shapes). I layer the basic colors of the painting on top of the white, then add detail, and finally add shading and highlights with thinned-down black and white. 

Length of Feather:  6 3/4”  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 6: Lounge Lizard

Green Anole Lizards are plentiful in Mississippi.  Many people refer to them as chameleons because they change colors, though these critters are not actually in the chameleon family.  When males are courting, they extend their red dewlap. They rhythmically head bob sometimes too. The little guy on my feather is looking for a date.

Our cat, Mr. Squeakers (in Damen’s custody, though I have full visitations rights and continue to be the first-call cat sitter) enjoyed catching these when we lived on Greensboro Street.  He didn’t kill them or eat them.  He proudly trotted about carrying them in his mouth, green twitching tail hanging out, occasionally spitting them out and batting them around, then scooping them up and trotting off again. Not the date Mr. Anole had in mind.

Length of Feather:    9 1/2”           

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 5: Archangel

 Now that I’ve painted this, I find myself more interested in the demon than the angel. She struggles and strains and is full of emotion. She wants to live. The angel is stoic and cold and prepared to judge with no regrets. What has she done to deserve punishment? Does the angel hesitate? Like a sociopath, does he find pleasure in administering justice, if that is, in fact, what he is about to do? Do they have the power to redefine themselves through freewill or are they playing out roles that have been predefined for them, both necessary in the balance of yin and yang in the universe?  Do our preconceived notions of good and evil deceive us? Perhaps he is the evil one about to slay a good and decent soul. 

Length of Feather:  14 1/4”           

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 4: Rubber Duckie, You’re the One

For the young lady at the Cotton District Arts Festival who requested a yellow duck. 

When I was in elementary school (around the same age as the girl who requested the yellow duck), I had a white plastic record player that I kept on the shelf under the fish tank in my bedroom.  I loved listening to records. One of my favorite albums was “Switched-On Bach” (Columbia Records, 1968). I spent hours listening and dancing to Moog-rendered Bach over and over, which I suspect may have helped me develop some of the synapses I needed to be a professional musician. Another one of my favorites was Ernie’s “Rubber Duckie” (Columbia Records, 1970).  I need to dig through my LP’s and see if I’ve still got it. There’s a good chance I do.

Length of Feather:  7”                     

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 3: Oh no, not again.

For Glen.

Ah . . . ! What's happening?
Er, excuse me, who am I?


Why am I here? What's my purpose in life?

What do I mean by who am I?

Calm down, get a grip now . . . oh! this is an interesting what is it?
It's sort of . . . yawning, tingling sensation in my . . . my . . . well, I suppose I'd better start finding names for things if I want to make any headway in what for that sake of what I shall call an argument I shall call the world, so let's call it my stomach. Good. Ooooh, it's getting quite strong. And hey, what about this whistling roaring sound going past what I'm suddenly going to call my head? Perhaps I can call that . . . wind! Is that a good name? It'll do . . . perhaps I can find a better name for it later when I've found out what it's for. It must be something very important because there certainly seems to be a hell of a lot of it. Hey! What's this thing? This . . . let's call it a tail - yeah, tail. Hey! I can really thrash it about pretty good, can't I? Wow! Wow! That feels great! Doesn't seem to achieve very much but I'll probably find out what it's for later on. Now, have I built up any coherent picture of things yet? No. Never mind, hey, this is really exciting, so much to find out about, so much to look forward to, I'm quite dizzy with anticipation . . . Or is it the wind? There really is a lot of that now, isn't there? And wow! Hey! What's this thing suddenly coming toward me very fast? Very, very fast. So big and flat and round, it needs a big wide-sounding name like . . . ow . . . ound . . . round . . . ground! That's it! That's a good name- ground! I wonder if it will be friends with me?

Length of Feather:  14”                   

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 2: Al-Masjid al-Harām

As requested by my dear friend Lisa, here is a feather with an Islamic theme. I’ve painted a night scene of the minarets at Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām, the largest mosque in the world. Located in the city of Mecca (Makkah), it surrounds the Kaaba, the place that Muslims turn towards during prayer.  
 I adore Lisa and need to spend more time together with her. If more people had even a fraction of her integrity, work ethic, curiosity, ingenuity and kindness the world would be a better place. She inspires me to improve myself. She also inspires me to cook! When we get together we usually spend the whole time in the kitchen, swapping recipes and trying new things together. In the last year we’ve made pickles (from our own homegrown cucumbers and dill), applesauce (which we canned), persimmon pie (I shared my grandmother’s recipe for perfect, flaky pie crust), pumpkin pie, potato latkes, quiche, falafel (Lisa shared her secret recipe that she used to serve at Shaherazad's when they still had the restaurant), an excellent Middle-Eastern flatbread for which I can’t remember the name, and a few other things that are slipping my mind at the moment. Making ketchup from scratch is next on the list. 
Length of Feather: 12”                    

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 1: Mississippi Magnolia

Today is day one of 100 Feathers in 100 Days.  

I grew up in Ohio and have since lived in Michigan, New Hampshire, Connecticut, North Carolina, and now Mississippi for the last eight years. I am at a crossroads in my life that affords me the freedom to move anywhere I choose. This past year I went through a divorce, sold the house, and resigned from my university teaching position. I have no children and thus have only the ties I create to hold me to any particular place. I’ve got and clean slate and the world flung wide open--a rare opportunity for a 36-year-old.  After many months of considering different parts of the country, I’m going to be moving to Jackson in June. I’m choosing to stay in Mississippi and I feel great about it.

This is not a statement I would have made for the first seven and a half years I was living in this state. I missed New England the most. I wished for the possibility of moving to Canada or Europe or just plain North.  For the past six months, Jackson has been my back-up Plan B in case nothing else worked out. Nothing else has worked out. The Mississippi Symphony (based in Jackson) is very dear to me (I play bassoon and contrabassoon with them…not enough pay to live on, but performing is something I need to do. They want me and I want them. It’s a good relationship.). The Mississippi Arts Commission is also based in Jackson. They are a quality agency making a difference in the state.  I intend to make myself useful. It will also be good to live in a city again. It always feels right to me to drive through town on I-55 when I’m there: lots of traffic moving fast. I’ve missed that. I’ll also be close enough to my ex-husband for a day-trip or weekend visit or to be available in case of an emergency. There’s no chance we’ll ever remarry and I am reminded of some of the reasons the divorce was a good idea when we spend more than an hour together (some of the remaining reasons having been my fault, and other reasons having now gone away--we communicate many things better now than we ever did. We've both learned a lot this year.). Yet, he is my dearest friend. It will be good to have him close for a little while longer (until he runs off to Canada or New England or just plain North).

And so I have to admit that I’ve grown fond of Mississippi.  My favorite thing about living in here is the starry sky. This place has less light pollution than anywhere else I’ve ever lived (anywhere most people live). Even in town, with street lights close, I can see more stars here on clear nights than I ever did growing up. If I sneak out to the Noxubee Refuge in the dead of night the sky explodes.  It takes my breath away. 

Length of Feather:  6 1/4”   

Update 2013: I am so pleased to share that on April 21, 2013 I married Ty Maisel, an eighth-generation Mississippian who plays violin in the Mississippi Symphony--a wonderful man with a large, wonderful extended family here in Jackson. I am making myself useful with the Mississippi Arts Commission. I'm working as a consultant for them, coordinating the Carnegie Hall LinkUp children's concerts across the state. In the whirlwind of change that has happened in the last year I also lost my father. He died on October 13, 2012 at home with mom. It was sudden and unexpected. Damen is doing well, though we rarely keep in touch now that we have both moved on to new happy relationships, as it should be.                        

Friday, April 20, 2012

I Like Lists

I make to-do lists almost every day. Some are simple little lists that help me organize the tasks I need to do in the next hour; some are meta lists of things I need to accomplish or remember as I work towards a long-term goal. I also make packing lists when I'm doing something complicated or going away for a long time. I've knocked out the to-do list for the CDAF tomorrow, which included the test run of putting up and taking down the tent yesterday.
And so that leaves me to pack the car and set the alarm clock for 4:00AM since set-up time is 5-7:30AM (which will actually be a little tight. I've got a lot of pieces to hang, and if it its rainy I have to deal with waterproofing the tent first). Here's my list:

Festival Day Packing List
·      Framed feathers and paintings, priced and stored in large plastic bins to keep them dry in case it’s damp (I was aiming to take 200 pieces. I’ve got about 175 ready to take with me, which means my goal was good.)
·      Duct tape
·      Clear packing tape
·      Scotch tape
·      Rope and bungee cords
·      4 Dog ties (recommended by another artisan. They are large cork screws that you twist into the ground to tie off the tent and make it more secure in case of wind. Got them at the dollar tree)
·      Cement blocks to weight down the tent (especially since I think I’ll be on cement and won’t be able to use the dog ties)
·      2 rolls of heavy duty plastic sheeting (in case it looks like it will rain)
·      6 new light weight plastic drop cloths (again to help keep things safe and dry in case it rains
·      Spiral notebook
·      Laptop (though I don’t plan on using it)
·      4 carbon copy receipt books for cash and check sales
·      Cell phone and GoPayment credit card swiper
·      Extension chord and cell phone charger ( know that I’ll be near electricity)
·      Correction markers for wood for frames in case they get dinged from being handled
·      Windex and paper towels for cleaning glass of framed feathers
·      Chair (purple shabby chic chair….might as well have a cool chair there rather than a plain folding one. I want to create an inviting atmosphere in my space)
·      Folding table (a long narrow one that I can put against back wall)
·      White sheet with lace edge for a table cloth so I can hide things under the table
·      Safety pins to secure the table cloth
·      Feather identification guide, information about where I get my feathers, and sample photos of my work in a three-ring binder for people to peruse.
·      Calculator (because I really hate using the calculator on the cell phone)
·      Pens and sharpies
·      1000 business cards minus the 20 I’ve given out so far
·      Monkey bowl to put business cards in
·      Small handout/bookmark with my short bio and contact information on it to give with each purchase
·      Basket to put the handout/bookmarks in
·      Colored tissue paper to wrap purchases in (the bright colored paper is important to me. When I sell things on eBay I wrap the items like a present with a bow and people really dig it. It has brought be repeat customers. I’m a big believer in generous customer service. The experience is as important as the item. )
·      Brown paper lunch bags to put purchases in (clean, simple, cheap, classic)
·      Basic tool kit with hammer, box cutter, pliers, scissors, etc. (found I need the pliers to take down the tent at the end of the day…one of the pins is fussy and sticks)
·      Canopy tent with mesh and solid walls (I paid $25 extra for the red top instead of plain white. If the visibility gives me even just one extra sale, then it will have paid for itself. The tent is heavy, but came in a great duffle bag with wheels to make it possible to roll when moving it. I did a test run of putting up and taking down the tent earlier this week. It was tough, but I was able to do it all by myself. I will thankfully have help from Damen at 5AM.)
·      Two little scrub trees (that are about 14 feet tall) that I will cut down tonight. They are behind the old chicken coup on my property and need to come down anyways
·      A whole mess of colorful little birds and butterflies to put in the trees that will be attached to each side of the opening of my tent (to make me visible, to create a fun space that people want to visit, and just because it’s fun)
·      FeatherMore sign for inside the tent
·      My signs listing all the methods of payment I accept (Cash, Check, Mastercard, Visa, Discover, American express, PayPal and baby goats)
·      A basic kit of my art supplies (glass palate, paint, brushes, cup for water, feathers mounted on card stock) and a few feathers so that I can be there working if things are slow or I have plenty of help from friends with selling  (so people can see how I do my thing)
·      Camera (with extra batteries, because I know they’re low)
·      Three hole punch and big butterfly so I can make a “We’re Open” sign in case it’s rainy and I have to put up solid sides, but it’s not so rainy that I’m not willing to pack it up. I’ll make the call tomorrow
·      Cash box with small bills and coins ready to be made into change
·      2 boxes of paperclips for hanging the art on the mesh walls (tested it. Works even better than the s hooks that came with the set up)
·      Magnifying glass for people to see the detail on the tiny feathers
·      Bottled water (I’m told that I will dry out simply from all the talking I will be doing)
·      Parking pass
·      Extra pricing labels
·      Sunscreen
·      Tylenol
·      Step ladder, if there’s room, to help with putting up little birds in the trees and in the rafters of the tent

Thursday, April 19, 2012

CDAF on Saturday, then starts 100 feathers in 100 days

Hello, everyone. I'm looking forward to showing my work at the Cotton District Arts Festival  on Saturday in Starkville, Mississippi. I've got my canopy, receipt books, credit card reader, lists of supplies I need to drag with me that day, and lots of framed feathers ready to sell. Here's hoping the rain will hold off. The weather prediction currently doesn't look so promising. I'll be heading to the hardware store to buy a big roll of heavy duty plastic to fortify the weatherproofing my canopy if it looks like rain. Wondering how waterproof the roof material is....wonder if I can go find waterproofing spray like I used to use on my boots back in the 90s....

Once the festival is over I'm going to start blogging regularly, starting with 100 Feathers in 100 Days. I will be painting and posting one new feather each day for 100 days starting on April 22nd. I'll do simple ones on days when I'm on the run (i.e. during my move to Jackson, MS that will take place in June), and more complicated ones on days when I have several hours to focus on painting. But no matter what my schedule, I'm committed to posting one new feather each day. Hold me to my promise.  Offer suggestions for things you'd like to see. Stay tuned and see how the summer progresses.